Auckland yacht-rock five-piece Lesiure have just released their self-titled debut album. Band members Jaden Parkes and Josh Fountain chat to RNZ Music's Yadana Saw.
Leisure’s first single, 'Got it Bad', first appeared on Soundcloud in April 2015 with little more detail than a kitschy 80s profile photo. The song made the RNZ Music 2015 favourite things list, but the band has since proven evasive.
With their debut self-titled album out yesterday, RNZ Music finally got the opportunity to chat to band members Jaden Parkes and Josh Fountain.
“We’re basically a boy band. I like to call us a man band,” says the group's founder Jaden.
The story goes that Jaden, previously of Goodnight Nurse and Kids of 88, hired a bach at West Auckland’s Muriwai Beach and invited a group of mates.
It was the ideal getaway for someone like Josh whose day job is recorder/producer at Golden Age Studios - former headquarters of Joel Little, Lorde’s co-writer/producer on Pure Heroine.
The four mates - Tom Young, Josh Fountain, Jordan Arts and Djeisan Suskov - had all been part of some of NZ's most notable electro outfits of the last decade: Nova Echo (the precursor to Cut of Your Hands), Cool Rainbows, Kidz in Space, High H00ps to name a few.
Josh says the group had “been in this industry so long we’re all jaded. So the whole idea with Leisure is 'let’s do things our way and let’s make sure it’s fun'. Because if it’s not fun it’s not worth doing ... we kinda have the freedom to do what we want”
But what about the serious art school turtlenecks in the band photo? “Oh, the ‘turts’?” Jaden laughs again, “That was a masterstroke on my part". He'd picked them up from a big box retailer for $7 each en route to the photo shoot, "and then, hey oh!"
Within a week the holiday crew had amassed 13 songs with a strong emphasis on “groove and melody".
On Got it Bad, lush synth confections with flourishes of organ and grooving bass, complement vocals as light at the seafoam on Muriwai Beach. The track turned out that way because none of the holidaying group brought an electric guitar with them. Although Jaden says he did ask Djeisan, who forgot.
“That's the reason why the whole song is built around organs, drums and bass: we didn't have any fancy gear," Josh says, "It was directly DI’ed on the worst bass.”
He and Djeisan - a fellow producer - have also learned when to keep their hands off finished: “We always get told off for fiddling with songs after we've finished them ... it always loses the magic and now we've learned our lesson.”
For self-appointed 'dad of the band', Jaden, who works in A&R, the cohesive ease of the band’s dynamic was a surprise. “Everyone is a songwriter and producer in their own right, so having that many people with ideas, I thought was going to be a potential nightmare. [But] everybody is at the point where they've been part of projects where they've learned that the main focus is the song and not about personal agendas."
Josh adds, "Getting out of the studio and into a creative and interesting space is really important. And also that’s the funnest part of being in Leisure."
Leisure's self-titled debut album is out now.
Songs: Hot Love, Got it Bad, Take it to the Top